Girls Safe House
· A home where respect, beauty, affection, order and love are the norm.
· A home where the little girls that attend EducAid Maronka Primary School can live.
· A home where girls are safe: mentally, emotionally and physically.
· A home where girls can learn to be women: strong, competent and confident women able to take their place in the building of 21st century Sierra Leonean society.
Sierra Leone ranks 100 out 102 on the Social Institutions Gender Index [SIGI] because of statistics like:
· 47 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age are married, divorced or widowed.
· Between 80 and 90 per cent of women are circumcised.
· 77 per cent of Sierra Leonean women think that gift marriage is acceptable.
· 9.5 per cent of women [20.4 per cent of men] have secondary education or above.
The above statistics add up to an environment where it is extremely hard for any girl to achieve her full potential in any aspect of life and thus overall as a woman.
There is little or nothing in the life of an average little Sierra Leonean girl to make her feel of value.
The purpose of the Girls Safe House in Maronka is to provide a home in which girls who would otherwise be vulnerable to a wide variety of emotional, mental and physical threats, can grow up strong in spirit, mind and body so they can live their lives to the full and contribute fully to society.
Specifically, who will live in the safe house?
Maronka is a tiny village of approximately 20 adults, 2 miles from Port Loko in the north of Sierra Leone.
EducAid has a small primary school in Maronka of 180 children, of which 30 + stay in the village but are not originally from there. 15 of them are girls. There are also a number of girls who walk long distances to come to school each day from the surrounding area.
This home will accommodate the 15 little girls who currently live scattered across the village, many of the village girls themselves and will provide the opportunity for many others from distant villages to stay at least during the week.
Little girls like:
Isatu, who we found living on the beach and hungry. She had run away from a difficult and very deprived home situation and had never been to school. She had learned to survive on the streets and some of her habits were not great. Now, she is catching up at school and is a much-loved member of the village community – a changed young woman on the way to being somebody.
Mariama was kitchen skivvy to a family in Freetown; a difficult little miss who did the opposite of everything she was asked to do and got herself a regular beating as a result. Taken to Maronka to start school, at long last, she is now a delightful little girl responding to love far better than she ever did to violence. She is nearly always top of her class.
Binta was left to bring herself up at 2 when her mother was sent to prison. She has clearly been seriously neglected for the best part of her little life. She had a heart-breaking habit of throwing herself into the arms of all visitors, seeking a bit of love and attention. She speaks now, though, and is starting to hold her own with her new playmates.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to www.educaid.org.uk or www.educaidsierraleone.blogspot.com